Like in previous Windows versions, the built-in administrator account is disabled by default in Windows 8. You can easily enable it in Windows 8 with the command net user administrator /active:yes from a command prompt with admin privileges. However, if you are locked out of your computer, for example because you forgot your password, you need to enable the administrator account offline—that is, from a second Windows instance—to be able to log on with administrator rights.
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

In this post, I describe two procedures to offline enable the built-in administrator account in Windows 8. Which one you prefer is a matter of taste. In the first guide, you need to replace a Windows command, which might not be everybody’s thing. The second method involves offline editing of the Windows Registry, which I only recommend for experienced users or admins.

Offline enable the built-in Windows 8 administrator account

  1. Boot from the Windows 8 boot media.
  2. After Windows 8 setup started press SHIFT+F10 to access a command prompt.
    Windows 8 setup - Command prompt
  3. Type copy /y d:\windows\system32\cmd.exe d:\windows\system32\sethc.exe.
    Replace the cmd.exe
  4. Remove the boot media and restart Windows 8.
  5. At the login screen, hit the SHIFT key five times until the command prompt appears.
  6. Type net user administrator /active:yes. This enables the built-in administrator account in Windows 8.
    Enable built-in administrator account in Windows 8
  7. Reboot the computer. When the logon screen appears, click the arrow on the left.
  8. You should see now the Administrator account icon. You can log in without a password.
    Buit-in administrator

You have now full access to the Windows 8 computer. Secure the data for the Microsoft account for which you lost the password and create a new account. After you are done, I strongly recommend disabling the administrator account again: net user administrator /active:no.

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Enable the built-in administrator account in the Registry

  1. Boot from the Windows 8 boot media.
  2. After Windows 8 setup started press SHIFT+F10 to access a command prompt.
  3. Type regedit and click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
  4. Click the File menu and then Load Hive.
    Load Hive
  5. Load the SAM file from D:\windows\system32\config.
    Load SAM
  6. Enter a key name (for example, myKey).
  7. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\myKey\SAM\Domains\Users\000001F4.
    Registry hive for built-in administrator account
  8. Right-click the F key and select Modify.
    Modify built-in administrator
  9. Navigate to position 0038 right before the value 11.
  10. Press DEL, type 10, and click OK.
    Enable built-in administrator account
  11. Click the myKey hive, click the File menu, click Unload Hive, and confirm the unloading of the hive.
    Unload Hive

The result is the same as with method 1. After you reboot, you can log on with the administrator account; no password is required. To disable the administrator account, type net user administrator /active:no at a command prompt with admin rights.

  1. JJ 8 years ago

    just great, thanks a lot!

    BTW: I used the second method (registry hack), and with Windows 10 you don’t need the boot media: just start Windows in safe mode and do the registry thing.

  2. Collin 8 years ago

    First option worked great for me
    Instead of shift+F10, it was shift+fn+F10 and the drive was c:\ instead of d:\

  3. Tom 8 years ago

    Thanks…’s working….

  4. yong ting 8 years ago

    How to boot from windows 8 boot media?Does this work on windows 10 as well?

  5. James Franklin 8 years ago

    The first Offline enable the built-in Windows 8 administrator account works without any authentication

    I added an account with password and added to the administrator group using the net user command. didn’t have to enable the local administrator account

  6. Uki 8 years ago

    can you help me? my win 8 lost account admin, how to fix it? i must to reinstal win8 or what ?

  7. RAJTHILAK 8 years ago

    Super.worked out….Thank you.

  8. Vishal katna 8 years ago

    I hav lost my administrator rights ….even cant login. …there is only one account Administrator and it is disabled ….what to do sir…plzz suggest…

  9. Meatcake 7 years ago

    Hi! I dont have access to the config folder, what to do then?

    Thanks 😀

  10. David Spatz 7 years ago

    Amazing – IT WORKED!!

    We struggled with a clients computer for a week.  She was a standard account and the user with administrator rights was her long gone divorced husband.  Not a real good change to get that password.

    The trick allowed us to log in and give her administrator rights on her own laptop.

    Thank you for posting.

    Dave Spatz – Jertex Networks

  11. Akash 7 years ago

    Thanks ! and may god bless you . You Helped me a lot and taught me a lot 🙂

  12. Samuel 7 years ago

    Thanks a lot. The second method works fine for me. You saved my sister from losing all her documents due to failed account login.

  13. Irek 6 years ago

    Thanks, this was I was looking for. Many thanks.

  14. Venkata kumar 5 years ago

    Buddy, that worked for me, am using windows 8.1 and at 0038 for me it was 15 not 11 and it worked … Thank you.

  15. PowerMe! (Rank 3) 5 years ago

    Hi Mike,

    I was stuck with a Surface Pro-Windows 10 with the disabled Admin Account.

    Net user administrator /active:yes

    returned successful but when I tired to login with the Administrator it did not work. So I used the Registry method. That worked.

    Just curious: does net user reset the Registry as you did with the registry ?



    • Author

      I think the net user command just changes the corresponding Registry value. Microsoft keeps messing with these things with every update, so hard it is hard to say what went wrong. What works today, might no longer work a few weeks later. Of course, it could also be a bug. It wouldn’t surprise me.

  16. Aryan 5 years ago

    it asks that you are not authorised to open this folder named config

    i canot grant permisssion as i am running a local account and my administrator account is deletd please help me in that

  17. Macklin T Blackstone 4 years ago

    THANK YOU – have a touch screen pc (All-in-one) USB ports failed – meaning no keyboard/mouse – touchscreen failed and even when I could manage to access easy access – onscreen KB didn't work – for the past few days have been ripping hair out 😛 trying to find a solution via bios/command prompt – kinda knew what I needed just was unable to get there – Thanks Again so much – out of the hundreds, possibly thousands of pages & data sourced – yours was most useful and most certainly will be recommended. 🙂



  18. Sumit 4 years ago

    My old desktop cd drive was damaged and USB boot isn't supported in BIOS l, forgot my password I was completely locked out.

    Then connected HDD to another computer and renamed the files as in first method. I was surprised to see that Windows doesn't know it is cmd not accessibility file. 😀

    You saved my day! Thank you!!!

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